NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - A painting by Louisiana artist George Rodrigue that depicts him as a blue dog beside his bride on their wedding day was recovered undamaged hours after it was stolen from a New Orleans gallery, a gallery spokesman said on Wednesday.
The 1997 painting "Wendy and Me," with an estimated value of $250,000, was found late on Tuesday leaning against the wall of a hotel, less then three blocks from where it was stolen off the wall of the Rodrigue Studio in New Orleans' French Quarter, gallery spokesman Andrew Freeman said.
Members of the band Stereo Fire Empire, who found the painting, turned it over to police, and it was returned to its place on the wall on Wednesday with a guard watching over it, Freeman said.
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In a statement provided by Freeman, a New Orleans police spokesman said the man believed to have stolen the painting remained at large. Police did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
"We are so thankful for the good Samaritans that saved this special artwork," Jacques Rodrigue, who helps manage his late father's art, said in a statement. "Dad painted 'Wendy and Me' for his wedding to Wendy so this is an irreplaceable piece to my family."
George Rodrigue rose to prominence in the 1990s with his series of paintings depicting blue dogs based on a Cajun legend of a werewolf or ghost dog threatening to haunt naughty children.
He died in 2013 at age 69 of complications from cancer, his son said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky; Editing by Peter Cooney)